Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

“Macronism” is in the’ impasse

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French President Emmanuel Macron.

Agence France-Presse

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Faced with a strong push from the extreme right and without an absolute majority in Parliament, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, finds himself very weakened after the resounding rejection of the immigration bill, three and a half years from the end of his mandate.

After his re-election in 2022, the specter of a France that would be difficult to govern already arose, with the risk that the three major forces emerging from the legislative elections – the relative majority around of the presidential Renaissance party, the arrival in force of Marine Le Pen's National Rally (RN) and the left-wing Nupes coalition – come to neutralize each other.

So far, the government has succeeded in passing numerous laws by relying on the opposition on a case-by-case basis or by resorting to article 49.3 of the Constitution which allows it to circumvent the parliamentary vote. This is also what he did around twenty times, even if it meant attracting the wrath of both public opinion and the opposition, notably during the pension reform last year.

But Monday's spectacular rejection of the immigration bill by coalition deputies from the left, right and extreme right constitutes a new turning point.

For Céline Bracq, general director of the Odoxa polling house, this critical moment could even lead to a major political crisis.

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The president really got himself into trouble, she believes, noting that he never had learned all the lessons from the absence of an absolute majority, which is nevertheless decisive in the case of a strong presidential regime like that of France.

The forceful passages linked to point 49.3 have given rise to vindictive opposition which gangs up against it, even though two thirds of French people are in favor of the text on immigration, notes the pollster.

For Emmanuel Macron's entourage, if there was clearly a blockage on Monday, it is the fault of the oppositions, and particularly the Socialist Party and the Republicans (right), whose president denounced cynicism and inconsistency, despite having ruled the country for 40 years. Above all, this does not mean that this blockage is insurmountable.

This episode is nevertheless symptomatic, according to Luc Rouban, of the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po (CEVIPOF), in that it confirms the #x27;failure of the majority to want at all costs to overcome the right-left divides for a sort of managerial effectiveness.

To try to satisfy everyone, the bill was in fact based on two legs, with on one side a repressive component on the expulsion of foreigners deemed dangerous, and on the other the promise to regularize certain workers in professions in tension such as catering.

Its rejection in the hemicycle now forces the government into intense negotiating maneuvers with the right, whose support is essential, before the meeting on Monday of a joint joint commission which will bring together seven deputies and seven senators , to try to agree on a hardened version of the text.

We can clearly see that the mechanics have seized up and that the government is in an impasse, notes Mr. Rouban, for whom the big winner in the short term is the RN, which is gradually establishing itself as a political force of reference by pushing the traditional right like the majority to increasingly right-wing.

The extreme right also benefits from a tense general climate, between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and several recent news items, such as the assassination in October in the north of the country of a French teacher by a radicalized young Russian, underlines political scientist Jean-Yves Camus.

As elsewhere in Europe, where populist leaders are on the rise, we are making great strides towards a form of polarization on questions of identity and religion, he recalls.

For the experts interviewed, the government therefore has few options to carry out its reform ambitions by the end of its five-year term in 2027.< /p>

A ministerial reshuffle would not unblock the obstacles in Parliament, and Emmanuel Macron himself has ruled out the hypothesis of a dissolution of the Assembly, very risky for the majority in the event of early legislative elections. p>

This mechanism backfired on President Jacques Chirac in 1997, subsequently forcing him to come to terms with a prime minister of socialist cohabitation.

There remains only one option for the government, according to the political scientist: to become more right-wing and regain the favor of the Republicans [LR], who are themselves fighting for their survival against the RN.

At the risk of imploding the current majority, by provoking the ire of its left and centrist wing? “The time of "neither, nor" or "at the same time" is finished,” said Mr. Rouban. Macronism is dead.

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